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Gains are fleeting for fiberglass market

Sales of all fiberglass boats, including personal watercraft, fell 4.8 percent in June, reversing some of the gains the new-boat market made in May.

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Sales of fiberglass boats in the popular 14- to 30-foot segment fell 1.7 percent. Sales in that category rose 7 percent in May. For the year through June, sales in the core segment have fallen 1.5 percent on sales of 22,847 boats.

Sales of personal watercraft fell 9.3 percent for the month. Through June, PWC sales have fallen 12.1 percent on sales of 13,327 units.

The year-over-year data are from 27 early reporting states that represent about 66 percent of the national market. Reports of sales of documented vessels were incomplete in the data because of entry delays at the Coast Guard. For that reason, the overall decline in the fiberglass market in June is overstated.

The overall aluminum market grew 0.77 percent in June, although sales of fishing boats fell 5.2 percent. In May, fishing-boat sales rose 9.8 percent.

Sales of pontoon boats rose 9.3 percent in June. For the year through June, pontoon boat sales have risen 9.9 percent on sales of 9,956 boats. New Jersey, Florida and Michigan led the growth in pontoon boat sales in June.

Sales of PWC and jet boats took the hardest hit in June. Otherwise, year-to-date results point toward a growing aluminum market and an even or better fiberglass market through the rest of this year. June represents 16 percent to 17 percent of total annual retail volume on a calendar-year basis.

Other fiberglass segments had mixed results. Sales of sailboats rose 16.9 percent, but sales of ski boats fell 3.2 percent, sales of deckboats fell 11.3 percent and sales of jet boats dropped 14.3 percent. Deck, jet, and sailboat sales maintained a mild growth path through June, showing growth of 2 percent (1,695 units), 0.3 percent (1,436 units), and 11 percent (988 units), respectively.

This article originally appeared in the September 2011 issue.

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